La Mesa goes high-tech with new parking meters downtown

The La Mesa Village has new streets, new sidewalks, new lighting and new landscaping thanks to the nearly $6 million Downtown Streetscape Improvement Project.

Now the area has new smartphone-friendly parking meters that will allow people to add time while shopping or sitting and having a bite to eat inside their favorite La Mesa Boulevard restaurant.

The City Council used about $125,000 in parking revenues to upgrade the existing smart parking meters in the Village as recommended last November by the city’s Parking Commission.

Designed and manufactured by San Diego-based IPS Group, the new meters will still process coins and credit/debit cards as they had before, but they will also allow users to pay wirelessly by phone. The meters will allow people to beam encrypted payment information to the meter display using Android Pay or Apple Pay.

People can also download the ParkSmarter app, set up a profile, scan the code on the meter and pay with a few screen taps. ParkSmarter can also integrate with Facebook Connect, show where parking is available, send notifications when parking time is low, and allow users to add time to the meter remotely.

The city has about 140 parking meters in the downtown village after adding six new areas to existing meters along La Mesa Boulevard and arterial streets.

La Mesa originally had 102 metered parking areas in its commercial spine, explained Chris Gonzales of the city’s planning and development department, but the streetscape project caused the city to pare that down to 95. But La Mesa has since added the new smart meters along Date Avenue, Third Street, Fourth Street, Palm Avenue and another leg eastward on La Mesa Boulevard.

Parking costs 50 cents an hour in most parts of the village, with some areas along Lemon Avenue priced at 75 cents an hour, for four hours maximum. Parking meters are enforced between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. every day except Sundays and certain holidays. The city also blocks off some meters during events such as the weekly farmers’ market and car shows in the summer.

The city generates about $25,000 a month from meters districtwide, Gonzales said.

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